Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mother as (Homeschool) Teacher, cont.

Christen and Elise, Ozark Latter-day Saints Homeschool Group

Maria Eugenia Aranda said, “A woman's role is grand in the home:  Whatever she teaches or does is going to be reflected in her children.”  This is true with the quality of homeschool education a mother gives her children.  Homeschooling must be more than a child completing work on the internet.  The sky’s the limit when schooling your own children.  In Alabama this is especially true, as we are not confined by a lot of laws. 

Anywhere in the U.S., a parent must arrange with the local school board to homeschool their children.  When we started homeschooling, it was very unpopular with the Alabama Department of Education.  This is because in Alabama we have “church schools” that do not have to follow strict state education laws.  You either join a church school that is part of an existing organized church, or like we did, join up with other homeschool Mormons and become a church school group.  And when that was not available to me, I created my own church school.  I used Matthew 18:20 to justify our home as a church school:  “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

During the ten years we homeschooled, we went on so many field trips around our state and neighboring states.  Even a trip to the grocery store became a learning experience.  I saved so much money homeschooling (public school is getting very expensive!)  I used these savings to place my children in after school activities such as piano lessons, art lessons, dance lessons, swim lessons, cheerleading and other sports activities.  We were very involved in scouting and Achievement Days activities.  Because school took way less than seven hours a day, my kids did not get burnt out on these additional activities.

I wish I had stuck with the homeschooling through highschool.  I left the decision up to my children.  But there is so much crap that goes on in schools, even private schools that I really do not think kids should have to put up with.  Face it, when you become an adult, if something is completely inappropriate in your environment, you can make the decision to do something about it.  This is not usually the case for children and parents in regular classrooms. 

What children are often exposed to in the public (and private) school situation shapes their lives, whether we like to believe it or not.  And usually most of it is completely worthless no matter how some folks spin “life experiences.” 
“Eighty-nine percent of children in this country are in the public schools.  They are supposed to be there many hours every week and 12 years of their lives. Those are formative years.  What values are they learning?  I believe they are learning values every hour of the day; there is no way to avoid that.

If they learn that you get ahead by doing your work neatly and accurately and on time, then those are the values they learn.  If they learn that you are not punished if you steal other kids' lunch money, or you vandalize the lockers, or you sass the teachers, then they will learn those values.  It's not a matter of having some "character education" course; it's a matter of what children absorb from all around them during their years at school.  ~Phyllis Schiafly
Unfortunately, my children learned a lot of unnecessary, negative messages—even from the teachers, many of which were lazy and dishonest themselves.  Used to, you had a 50/50 chance of getting a dedicated teacher.  Teachers’ unions have done their best to make this one in ten!  “If you do not have to work hard, then why bother?” is the message many school teachers are giving students such as my own children.  Work ethics and deadlines are a thing of the past!

I have recently learned about Brigham Young University’s online high school degree.  If I had it to do all over again, that is the direction I would have taken.  There are wonderful tutors that you can find (mostly by word of mouth) to help homeschool students.  When the parent might feel inadequate, personal tutors can help a child master any subject.  The following poem should be dedicated to outstanding homeschool mothers by their children, but in case you have not heard it from your own children, I dedicate it to you myself:

Thank You, Teacher (Mother), by Michele Fennell
Sometimes it's hard for 
Us little ones to say
Thank you, Teacher,
For what you taught today.

You take us by the hand
And teach us from the heart
Preparing us for life
From the very start.

We recognize the time and
Patience you give,
Teaching us the gospel
That Jesus does live.

You make us each feel special 
And we feel of your great love.
You will always be remembered
By us and God above.

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